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Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program

Innovative Manufacturing, Operation, and Certification of Advanced Structures for Civil Vertical Lift Vehicles (IMOCAS)

Active Technology Project
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Project Description

IMOCAS Technical Challenges

For arguably the first time, civilian applications are driving the innovation space for vertical lift.  The onslaught of novel configurations for personal air vehicles, air taxis and even air buses has driven the traditional vertical lift community to reassess the design and analysis boundaries of the legacy rotorcraft vehicle. Electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems introduce further design constraints with the addition of combinations of rotors-propellers-engines.  These new paradigms indicate that the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) vehicles need to meet a fundamentally different set of requirements. Developing insight in acquisition and operational cost as a function of operational use (maintenance and repair) is not only important but should be reversely accessible to steer the design of the vehicle as well as supply chain. Technology needs to deliver straightforward maintenance and repair techniques with thorough certification. It is critically important to ensure that safety requirements are met or exceeded, as a single catastrophic failure can have a devastating impact on the entire UAM community.  The addition of new materials across the near to far terms of deployment must be assessed for their applicability in civil operations and civil business case models.   

The technical challenge is to mitigate, and if possible, eliminate the technical barriers associated with the structures-related technology of vertical lift vehicles that make them less viable for civilian applications, while maintaining the highest safety standards.  We are developing, validating, and demonstrating a novel, modular framework of analysis tools for operations, risk assessment, repair/maintenance, safety, and costs of AAM using current and advanced structures. Our unique team of university researchers, industry partners and maintenance experts have developed a combined numerical and experimental approach to develop an engineering- and science-based pc-based framework for operators and designers.  This framework will permit  to assess when maintenance and repair are needed using a low-cost monitoring system specific to local operations.

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